With all retail spaces filled... it makes sense to start planning the next phase! Well, that's just what's happening at the Shops at Bluestone, Duluth's newest (and arguably the most talked about) retail development in quite some time. This is the new retail center near the University of Minnesota Duluth. The Shops at Bluestone has six tenants (seven with the Tavern on the Hill) including Starbucks, Chilly Billy's, Northern Communities Credit Union / Kat's Eyes Optical, Waxing the City and the soon to be first Qdoba location in Northern Minnesota. The roughly 10,000 square foot retail center was completely leased before construction had even finished. Now developer Mark Lambert, the man responsible for the entire Bluestone Commons development, is on to planning Phase II of the successful retail center.
The second phase of the Shops at Bluestone will include two retail buildings, one that is 5,100 square feet and the other will be 5,400 square feet. To give you a size estimate, it's a little larger than Phase I if you don't include the Tavern on the Hill space. Phase II will be built south of Phase I on land that is currently home to about six homes. All homes will be razed in order to make room for the new retail buildings.
Now, if you're thinking what in the world could call this space home... we will hold off from pulling out the "2014 Retailer Almanac (Deluxe Edition)" of restaurants and stores that have yet to call Duluth home.... because to be honest, there is quite a list. What we will probably end up seeing with Phase II is not the idea of "if " they can fill the space, but rather the idea of what retailers end up getting the CHANCE to call the Shops at Bluestone home. We're quite certain there will be no issue in attracting new retailers to the space based on the success of the current businesses in place.
One thing that we can assure you is that we can kill two rumors right away for the site. The first is that a Walgreen's was slated for the site that Phase II is to be built on. There is simply not enough room for that one to be true. Unless some significant alterations happen to the site plan before construction starts, it's not possible. It's not to say that Walgreen's couldn't still be a part of a later phase? We'll stay on the lookout.
The other rumor that was floating around was that this next retail component of the Shops at Bluestone could be home to the first Trader Joe's location in Duluth. Not true. We'll squash that one without hesitation... with a somber heart we might add. We are NOT saying that Trader Joe's is not coming to Duluth (we actually just spoke with a few sales associates at a couple of locations who say that company is actively looking at the north (hint, hint) for expansion), but once again, there simply isn't enough room for a Trader Joe's in Phase II.
So long story short... what retailers may we see calling this place home? It wouldn't surprise us to see another fast casual restaurant (Panera Bread anyone?) along with another financial institution of some sort. Also, some type of smaller clothing retailer aimed towards college students would be a logical choice. That's a trend that has been starting to pop up in retail centers near universities across the country within the past year.
With those two rumors being addressed, the second component of retail for the Shops at Bluestone will begin construction in this summer with an expected completion in Spring 2015. Future phases for the Bluestone Commons development will most likely include more retail on the former Woodland Middle School site (Walgreen's or Trader Joe's maybe?) along with the potential for additional housing units.